Struggling with theology

Forgive me if this is the wrong place to inquire about this…

I am historically Protestant but have never really agreed with the doctrines.

In searching for the Church, I investigated the Catholic church, decided not to do RCIA and went and became a catechumen in the Orthodox church. I made it through several months and then one day, alarm bells went off in my head about the veneration of icons. Since Jesus has two natures, being fully God and fully man, his depiction only shows His human side, not His spiritual one, so I felt I was not worshipping in truth and in spirit. I felt I was violating the 2nd commandment of not having graven images. I bailed on being Orthodox.

Fast forward a year and I have not been to church – any church – and I have been researching and researching and I feel lost. I understand the nature of the relationship between the Catholics and the Orthodox and the reasons for why they are not in unity. While I am somewhat uneasy with the Filioque, I understand it is more of a semantic thing after reading some of the earlier church father’s writings on the subject.

I do not know which way to turn. I have spoken to priests and lay people from both sides of the fence and they both claim to have the truth. I believe the Church is one and there should be unity.

I cannot be Protestant after knowing what I now know. The Orthodox icon thing freaks me out because I feel like an idolater. Some Catholic theology makes me a bit uneasy. My wife is a former cradle Catholic and refuses to even look back at the idea of rejoining the RCC. It’s a theological thing for her – typical Protestant/Evangelical issues. I share some of her concerns, but not near enough to stop my research.

Needless to say, I research, seemingly in vain. I pray and ask God for clarity and don’t seem to be getting any. Perhaps I’m doing something wrong. Priests and lay people from both camps defend their own camp without much detail that a guy like me needs. The Orthodox throw out the Filioque and the Catholics throw out the Saint Peter and the Keys thing. I feel like I’m car shopping when I’m not. I feel awkward and uneasy in my search and because my decision affects my eternal soul and that of my family, I’m worried and unable to make a clear decision. Help, please. Perhaps someone here, by the grace of God can shed some light on something someone else has not.

Thank you…

The command is against worship of graven images, not against having or making them. In Ex 25:18-19, God commands Moses to make the statues of cherubim. In Numbers 21:8, God tells Moses to the bronze serpent, which the Israelites had to look at in order to be healed. The Israelites also used carved images in the Temple (1Kings 6 and 7) In fact, we are told that the Temple was full of these, and God approved this Temple. David gave Solomon the plan…made clear by the writing of the hand of the Lord concerning it all (1Chr 28:18-19). Ezekiel 41:17-18 describes graven images in the idealized Temple shown in a vision. Worshipping those images is what is forbidden.

Since God is spirit, there’s no real way for us to make an image of His likeness. Icons portray what we can relate to. So, yes, an icon of Christ will portray His human nature, usually with a halo or other symbol to represent something more. The icon/image helps you focus on the person that the image represents. We needn’t be able to draw/carve Christ’s Divine Nature to be able to look at a picture and think about Him.

Fast forward a year and I have not been to church – any church – and I have been researching and researching and I feel lost. I understand the nature of the relationship between the Catholics and the Orthodox and the reasons for why they are not in unity. While I am somewhat uneasy with the Filioque, I understand it is more of a semantic thing after reading some of the earlier church father’s writings on the subject.

Yep. :slight_smile: I’m sorry that you feel lost. Keep digging for information and keep praying that God will guide you. And be open to go where He leads you. :wink:

I do not know which way to turn. I have spoken to priests and lay people from both sides of the fence and they both claim to have the truth. I believe the Church is one and there should be unity.

AMEN! Since we all claim to have truth, that should be a clear sign to you that God would have left a clear authority to lead His Church…a “pillar and bulwark of truth” (1Tim 3:15). There can’t be many different versions of a truth, can there? Think and pray about that.

I cannot be Protestant after knowing what I now know. The Orthodox icon thing freaks me out because I feel like an idolater. Some Catholic theology makes me a bit uneasy. My wife is a former cradle Catholic and refuses to even look back at the idea of rejoining the RCC. It’s a theological thing for her – typical Protestant/Evangelical issues. I share some of her concerns, but not near enough to stop my research.

When a person looks at a photo of a long-lost relative and, out of emotion, kisses it, are they paying some form of tribute to that photo, or to the person it signifies?

I hope you find the answers and the help you need. I’ll be praying for you! :slight_smile:

Welcome to CAF rsearch.

You said (bold and UL mine):

(I) became a catechumen in the Orthodox church. . . . .
. . . . I do not know which way to turn. I have spoken to priests and lay people from both sides of the fence and they both claim to have the truth. I believe the Church is one and there should be unity.

Your own question may answer your dilemma.

Which one of the “Orthodoxies” did you consider? Why do you think there are so many?

They will say the same of Catholics but if we are not in union with the Pope, then we remove ourselves out from under the guardianship of the Magisterium (see CCC 100).

The Orthodox(ies) have no such source of visible unity.

Something to think about.

I hope this is helpful and I will pray for you (and your wife).

God bless.

Cathoholic

I’m currently working my way through Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman’s Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent which you also might find helpful. There are many factors which go towards making up our assent to the propositions of faith (or indeed any proposition) and if you focus only upon your reasoning processes you might be going off in a wrong direction. The use of reason of course is to be recommended but it always involves the acceptance on your part of unexamined first principles which, after all might be wrong.

All of which is abstract but two practical principles are worth remembering here. Firstly Christianity is something which we learn in part by doing. Secondly Christianity is a community faith not a solitary one, even hermits partake of the corporate prayer life of the Church. So, it is dangerous for you to reduce your seeking after the truth to an individual search restricted to the use of your discursive mind. Take part in the liturgies of the Church, have discussions with people, an RCIA group isn’t a binding contract you don’t have to join up at the end of it, go on a spiritual retreat in a monastery or with the Jesuits, find a spiritual director. When the truths of the Catholic faith emerge from the shadows of your mind and begin to be lived in the hours and days of your life then you will understand them better. Whether you then go on to accept them or not of course remains to be seen.

I recommend a book called Theology For Beginners by F.J. Sheed. It is an easy to read book.

I would also read a book on the Early Church Fathers, either

The Fathers Know Best, Jimmy Akin

or

Faith of the Early Fathers, William Jurgens (suggest starting with volume 1)

The commandment isn’t against having graven images but against having them and worshiping them. Jesus himself is an image of the Father.

*He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; (Colossians 1:15)

He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, (Hebrews 1:3)*

It can rightly be said that Christians worship an image - Jesus - who is the full revelation and perfect image of the Father.

We cannot separate Jesus’ humanity from his divinity. When we look at Jesus the man we also look at the Second Person of the Trinity. When we venerate an image of Jesus the man we also venerate an image of the Second Person of the Trinity. Jesus is God.

*we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. (John 1:14)

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life (1 John 1:1)*

St. John says that he saw God when he looked at Jesus. One cannot look at Jesus and see only a man. His humanity and divinity are inseparable.

-Tim-

I think that maybe the Orthodox veneration of icons could be similar to the Catholic veneration of statues and the like.

You need to have faith, and by faith I mean that you trust that God will lead you along the right path.

+1 on the book recommendation. I have read it and it has been MOST helpful. (Though I admit, I had to read much of it twice to grasp it. Reading (as opposed to skimming through) never came easy to me. :blush: )

Originally posted by rsearch
Perhaps someone here, by the grace of God can shed some light on something someone else has not.

I believe one of the Psalms says that once a person gives up sin they become thirsty for God. Sounds as tho you are very very thirsty…congratulations

If you are thirsty for him then he won’t deny you. Keep looking and have trust in his love for you. That is why he is calling you…because he loves you. Don’t worry…he won’t go away because you are sincere in your heart.

May the Good Shepherd fill you with his peace and bring you into his fold.

Trust me, you are in the right place. This is what we do here.

I am historically Protestant but have never really agreed with the doctrines.

In searching for the Church, I investigated the Catholic church, decided not to do RCIA and went and became a catechumen in the Orthodox church. I made it through several months and then one day, alarm bells went off in my head about the veneration of icons. Since Jesus has two natures, being fully God and fully man, his depiction only shows His human side, not His spiritual one, so I felt I was not worshipping in truth and in spirit. I felt I was violating the 2nd commandment of not having graven images. I bailed on being Orthodox.

Fast forward a year and I have not been to church – any church – and I have been researching and researching and I feel lost. I understand the nature of the relationship between the Catholics and the Orthodox and the reasons for why they are not in unity. While I am somewhat uneasy with the Filioque, I understand it is more of a semantic thing after reading some of the earlier church father’s writings on the subject.

I do not know which way to turn. I have spoken to priests and lay people from both sides of the fence and they both claim to have the truth. I believe the Church is one and there should be unity.

I cannot be Protestant after knowing what I now know. The Orthodox icon thing freaks me out because I feel like an idolater. Some Catholic theology makes me a bit uneasy. My wife is a former cradle Catholic and refuses to even look back at the idea of rejoining the RCC. It’s a theological thing for her – typical Protestant/Evangelical issues. I share some of her concerns, but not near enough to stop my research.

Needless to say, I research, seemingly in vain. I pray and ask God for clarity and don’t seem to be getting any. Perhaps I’m doing something wrong. Priests and lay people from both camps defend their own camp without much detail that a guy like me needs. The Orthodox throw out the Filioque and the Catholics throw out the Saint Peter and the Keys thing. I feel like I’m car shopping when I’m not. I feel awkward and uneasy in my search and because my decision affects my eternal soul and that of my family, I’m worried and unable to make a clear decision. Help, please. Perhaps someone here, by the grace of God can shed some light on something someone else has not.

Thank you…

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